My Breastfeeding Journey Through the First Birthday

my breastfeeding journey
Image via Mindi Stavish

Two weeks ago, my third son, Ryker, turned a year old. Just this week, I completely weaned from pumping at work. It's all a very bittersweet time for me as my boy transitions from an infant to a toddler. When he turned 11 months, I began feeling sad and a bit in denial that he was so close to turning a year old. I kept telling myself that just because he was turning one didn't mean that a switch would flip and he would suddenly no longer be a “baby.” Yet, it seems that is what happened.

Before I was ready, Ryker has turned more toddler than baby. He has started to throw fits when he can't get his way, imitate words, refuse food he absolutely does not like, and roar like a dinosaur every time he sees a toy dinosaur (which is pretty stinking cute!). I just need to get over it and realize that he can't stay a baby forever.

Out of all three of my babies, nursing Ryker has been the easiest yet. Right after he was born, he was placed on my chest and latched without difficulties. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. After we were discharged from the hospital, he continued to nurse well and gain weight appropriately.

{ MORE: What You Should Know About Milk Allergies in Infants }

Four days after his birth, my milk came in full force! The morning my milk came in, I woke up extremely engorged and in a lot of pain. That engorgement was the worst pain I have felt while breastfeeding because it lasted almost three days. Sure, I suffered from a few occurrences of plugged ducts, mastitis, and a biter, but this was much more intense. Thankfully, with some tips from a lactation consultant and pumping, I was able to relieve the pressure so Ryker could successfully latch and withdraw milk.

Once we made it through the initial engorgement, our nursing relationship was effortless and exhausting. I always forget how tiring nursing a newborn is, particularly during cluster feedings. Yet, this time flies by, too.

{ MORE: How to Gain Weight While Breastfeeding }

The biggest challenge in my breastfeeding journey with Ryker was my transition back to work. With each of my three boys, I struggled with feelings of sadness and frustration when my maternity leave ended. Sad to leave my brand new baby all day long. Frustrated about pumping three to four times a day while at work. Worried about my milk supply each and every time I sat down to pump. Stressed when my boss gave me grief about taking time to pump, because I had to keep a full caseload. No matter how difficult it was to squeeze in time to pump or how exhausted I felt, I just kept hooking myself up to my pump and made no excuses. My child is important, and I was committed to pumping for at least the first year of life.

So when I reached my pumping goal at a year, I should have been over-the-moon excited to pack up my breast pump again. Yet, part of me feels a bit sad. It just means that another chapter of life with a baby has come to an end. I don’t have any set goal or plan in terms of weaning Ryker. I love the special quiet moments we have nursing at bedtime, especially now that he is on the move during the day. I will likely breastfeed him until he is ready to wean, unless he is anything like his brother and refuses to kick the habit. For now, we will continue with our nursing relationship as I try to hang on to what little is left of his babyhood.  

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My Breastfeeding Journey Through the First Birthday

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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